Human Evolution

  • S. L. Washburn


Recently Simpson (1966, p. 10) has stated, “We are no longer concerned with whether man evolved, because we know he did. We are still very much concerned with how he evolved, with what is most characteristically human about him and how those characteristics arose.” Clearly, man is separated from the contemporary nonhuman primates primarily by the functions of the brain (intelligence, language, degree of memory, planning, and social behaviors), and the fossil record shows that these followed long after the evolution of bipedalism, the use of stone tools, and the evolution of human dental characteristics (Simpson, 1966). Recent discoveries in southern Ethiopia (Howell, in press) and northern Kenya (R. E. Leakey, in press) show that the antiquity of stone tools is far greater than previously thought—probably at least twice as old as the assemblage from Olduvai Gorge for which these tools are named. These earliest tools are diversified in form (M. D. Leakey, 1967) and continued without improvement for at least 2 million years, and probably much longer.


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© Meredith Corporation 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. L. Washburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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